x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Fewer runaway maids in Dubai this Ramadan

The number of Filipina maids seeking refuge inside a labour-office shelter is not 'abnormally high' for Ramadan, when many are unable to cope with the extra workload.

Since the end of last month, 29 maids have sought sanctuary at a shelter set up by the Filipino labour office, says Delmer Cruz.  Satish Kumar / The National
Since the end of last month, 29 maids have sought sanctuary at a shelter set up by the Filipino labour office, says Delmer Cruz. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Filipino labour officials are pleasantly surprised that the number of maids seeking refuge in Dubai this Ramadan is lower than expected.

The number of runaway maids usually surges during the holy month because of the overwhelming extra workload.

Since the end of last month, 29 maids have sought sanctuary at a shelter set up by the Filipino labour office.

During the months of July and August in 2012 and last year, an average of 90 maids sought refuge at the shelter.

Those women had complained about having to endure inadequate food and sleep, maltreatment, overwork and non-payment of wages.

“Based on my computation, it’s about 2.25 per day and if you multiply it by 30 days, that’s 67.5 wards [maids] being admitted in a month,” said Delmer Cruz, the Filipino labour attache for Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

“But it is too early for us to tell if we’ll achieve a similar figure [this year], as we still have two more weeks to go before the end of Ramadan.”

The shelter has admitted about 78 maids a month since January, compared with the monthly average of 100 in 2012 and last year.

A steady decline in the number of runaway maids started in July 2012. “By the end of June 2013, we were averaging between 50 and 70 [runaway maids a month],” said Mr Cruz. “Since October 2013, we’ve only got between 30 and 50 wards on any given day.”

He attributed the decline to increased co-operation between recruitment agencies in Dubai and the Northern Emirates that are accredited by the Philippines overseas labour office in Dubai.

“We’ve engaged the agencies in a dialogue and stressed the need for them to cooperate and make themselves more accessible to us and the women they hire,” said Mr Cruz.

The labour office has a policy of refusing to process further applications from recruitment agencies whose maids are at the shelter until their cases are resolved.

“What we’ve achieved in the number of wards remaining is due to our efforts in resolving disputes with the employers and facilitating the workers’ repatriation,” Mr Cruz said. “But what we are now trying to address is the root cause of the problem, so we can further reduce the number of runaways and achieve employment preservation.”

rruiz@thenational.ae